The following recipe and photography were provided courtesy of local cookbook author and chef, Carla Snyder. Learn more about Carla and discover her recipes at Ravenouskitchen.com or in her cookbook, One Pan Whole Family.
This wonderful upside-down caramelized apple pie is the invention of two French women, the Tatin sisters. I’m sure the sisters would be surprised to find us making this classic French dessert in Ohio more than 100 years later. Make it once and you’ll surely make it again and again.
It’s that easy: It really is pretty easy to make this dish if you use the right pan: an 11 or 12-inch straight sided skillet is a must in order to keep the apples in place. Cast iron, aluminum or non-stick are all good to use, though the cast iron is the classic pan. This recipe calls for plenty of butter, so I’ve never had any trouble with this tart sticking!
- 15 to 16 Granny Smith apples (sub for Jonagold, Braeburn, Gala, Honeycrisp, Mutsu or Pink Lady)
- 1 box frozen puff pastry
- 11 Tbsp. salted butter
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- Whipped cream or ice cream, for serving
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- Halve, peel and core the apples as neatly as you can. A melon baller makes short work of coring out the centers. Cut a thin slice from the bottom of each apple so that it can sit up perfectly straight.
- Roll out one sheet of the pastry on a lightly-floured surface so that it fits completely over the top of the skillet with some overlap (about 13-inch round). If your pastry is square and you’d like to use the second piece of pastry to make it fit by patching the dough, go ahead. This is going to be the bottom of the tart, so no one will know but you. Chill the pastry until ready to use.
- Heat a straight sided, heavy skillet (aluminum, cast iron or heavy non-stick) over medium heat and melt the butter. When melted, sprinkle the sugar evenly over the bottom of the pan. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook the sugar without stirring until the sugar caramelizes or begins to turn brown. Swirl the pan now and then, tilting it to blend the browned parts and to ensure even coloring. When the caramel turns a medium-brown, remove it from the heat and tightly stand the apples on the flat end around the outside of the pan, then fill the center as attractively as possible. You may not use all the apples at this point.
- Return the pan to medium-high heat and cook the apples for about 10 minutes. They will give off some liquid and shrink a bit. Stuff some of the remaining apples into open spots so that the apples remain tightly packed. It’s okay to cut the halves down to make them fit. The liquid should bubble. Use a turkey baster to baste the liquid over the tops of the apples for another 5 minutes or so. The idea is to cook the apples a little bit and also to cook down some of the liquid that they exude before baking.
- Remove the pan from the heat and carefully top the tart with the pastry, tucking the edges down between the apples and the pan. Make a few slits in the top for steam to escape.
- Transfer the pan to the preheated oven and bake for about 30 minutes or until the top is browned and crisp and the apples are tender.
- Allow the tart to sit for 10 minutes before unmolding. Tilt the skillet to see if there’s an abundance of liquid in the pan and if there is, carefully pour most of it into a heat-proof bowl (you don’t want the hot liquid to splatter when you unmold the tart).
- Place a plate larger than the perimeter of the pan over the top of the tart. Using folded dish towels to protect your hands, hold the bottom of the plate with your thumbs and the bottom of the skillet with your fingers, lift and quickly flip the skillet upside down. The tart should plop down onto the plate. Carefully lift the pan from the top of the tart.
- If you like, you can pour some of the caramel syrup back over the top of the tart. Cool slightly and cut into wedges while still warm.
- Top with whipped cream or ice cream.